Clever Hans Fairy Tale

Clever Hans

Clever Hans really tries hard to listen to the wisdom of his mother. But will he be clever enough to stay with his bride-to-be Gretel?

Clever Hans is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about Hans, a young man who is not clever at all. He visits his bride-to-be Gretel. She gives him gifts but he struggles every time with taking the gifts back, trying to apply his mothers old advice to new gifts. In the end Gretel gives up on him.

Clever Hans in 2 Minutes

Complete text Clever Hans

Hans & his mother
“Where are you going, Hans?”
“To Gretel!”
“Behave yourself, Hans.”
“I will mother, goodbye!”
“Goodbye Hans!”

Hans & Gretel
“Good day, Gretel.”
“Good day, Hans. What are you bringing me today?”
“Nothing, I come to get something.”
Gretel gives Hans a needle.
“Goodbye, Gretel.”
“Goodbye, Hans.”

Hans takes the needle, sticks it into a hay cart and follows the cart home.

Hans & his mother
“Good evening, mother.”
“Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?”
“With Gretel.”
“What did you take her?”
“Nothing; she gave me something.”
“What did Gretel give you?”
“She gave me a needle.”
“Where is the needle, Hans?”
“Stuck it in the hay cart.”
“That was stupid, Hans. You should have stuck the needle in your sleeve.”
“Never mind, I’ll do better next time!”

“Where are you going, Hans?”
“To Gretel!”
“Behave yourself, Hans.”
“I will mother, goodbye!”
“Goodbye Hans!”

Hans & Gretel
“Good day, Gretel.”
“Good day, Hans. What are you bringing me today?”
“Nothing, I come to get something.”
Gretel gives Hans a knife.
“Goodbye, Gretel.”
“Goodbye, Hans.”

Hans takes the knife, sticks it in his sleeve and goes home.

Hans & his mother
“Good evening, mother.”
“Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?”
“With Gretel.”
“What did you take her?”
“Nothing; she gave me something.”
“What did Gretel give you?”
“She gave me a knife.”
“Where is the knife, Hans?”
“Stuck in my sleeve.”
“That was stupid, Hans. You should have put the knife in your pocket.”
“Never mind, I’ll do better next time!”

“Where are you going, Hans?”
“To Gretel!”
“Behave yourself, Hans.”
“I will mother, goodbye!”
“Goodbye Hans!”

Hans & Gretel
“Good day, Gretel.”
“Good day, Hans. What are you bringing me today?”
“Nothing, I come to get something.”
Gretel gives Hans a young goat.
“Goodbye, Gretel.”
“Goodbye, Hans.”

Hans takes the young goat, ties its legs and puts it in his pocket. When he gets home it is suffocated.

Hans & his mother
“Good evening, mother.”
“Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?”
“With Gretel.”
“What did you take her?”
“Nothing; she gave me something.”
“What did Gretel give you?”
“She gave me a goat.”
“Where is the goat, Hans?”
“Put it in my pocket.”
“That was stupid, Hans. You should have put a rope around the goat’s neck.”
“Never mind, I’ll do better next time!”

“Where are you going, Hans?”
“To Gretel!”
“Behave yourself, Hans.”
“I will mother, goodbye!”
“Goodbye Hans!”

Hans & Gretel
“Good day, Gretel.”
“Good day, Hans. What are you bringing me today?”
“Nothing, I come to get something.”
Gretel gives Hans a piece of bacon.
“Goodbye, Gretel.”
“Goodbye, Hans.”

Hans takes the bacon, ties it to a rope and drags it away behind him. The dogs come and devour the bacon. When he gets home, he has the rope in his hand, but there is no longer anything hanging to it.

Hans & his mother
“Good evening, mother.”
“Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?”
“With Gretel.”
“What did you take her?”
“Nothing; she gave me something.”
“What did Gretel give you?”
“She gave me a piece of bacon.”
“Where is the bacon, Hans?”
“I tied it to a rope, brought it home, dogs took it.”
“That was stupid, Hans. You should have carried the bacon on your head.”
“Never mind, I’ll do better next time!”

“Where are you going, Hans?”
“To Gretel!”
“Behave yourself, Hans.”
“I will mother, goodbye!”
“Goodbye Hans!”

Hans & Gretel
“Good day, Gretel.”
“Good day, Hans. What are you bringing me today?”
“Nothing, I come to get something.”
Gretel gives Hans a calf.
“Goodbye, Gretel.”
“Goodbye, Hans.”

Hans takes the calf, puts it on his head and the calf kicks his face.

Hans & his mother
“Good evening, mother.”
“Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?”
“With Gretel.”
“What did you take her?”
“Nothing; she gave me something.”
“What did Gretel give you?”
“She gave me a calf.”
“Where is the calf, Hans?”
“I set it on my head and it kicked my face.”
“That was stupid, Hans. You should have led the calf and put it in the stall.”
“Never mind, I’ll do better next time!”

“Where are you going, Hans?”
“To Gretel!”
“Behave yourself, Hans.”
“I will mother, goodbye!”
“Goodbye Hans!”

Hans & Gretel
“Good day, Gretel.”
“Good day, Hans. What are you bringing me today?”
“Nothing, I come to get something.”
“I will go with you.”

Hans takes Grethel, ties her to a rope, leads her to the rack and binds her fast. Then Hans goes to his mother.

Hans & his mother
“Good evening, mother.”
“Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?”
“With Gretel.”
“What did you take her?”
“Nothing.”
“What did Gretel give you?”
“She gave me nothing, she came with me.”
“Where have you left Gretel, Hans?”
“I led her by the rope, tied her to the rack and scattered some grass for her.”
“That was stupid, Hans. You should have cast friendly eyes on her.”
“Never mind, I’ll do better!”

Hans went into the stable, cut out all the calves’ and sheep’s eyes, and threw them in Gretel’s face. Gretel became angry, tore herself loose and ran away. That was how Hans lost his bride.

Tips for Telling Clever Hans

Storyteller Rudolf Roos
  • Telling jokes is about content, but mostly about delivery. This humorous story has simple rhythm and is predictable. It is a good story to practice telling funny stories, because delivering it has a lot to do with speed and timing. The more you tell it, the better your timing will be.
  • There are different versions of the ending of this story. In some, Gretel marries Hans, in others, she does not. It could be interesting to discuss this with your listeners. What do they think?
  • Be aware of the violence in the scenes with animals. A little goat is suffocated and eyes are cut out of calves and sheep. Some listeners will not like this at all, so you might want to change it.
A reading of ‘Clever Hans’

All Questions Answered

Who wrote the story Clever Hans?

The tale was published by the Brothers Grimm in the first edition of their Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Their source was the Hassenpflug family.

When was Clever Hans written?

The Brothers Grimm included it in the first edition (1812) of their Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

More useful information

Fairy tales with a cow

Fairy tales with a goat

Photo credits: Robert Prax from Pixabay

The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales on this website are based on the authentic translation of Margaret Hunt. They were edited and reformatted for pleasant reading and telling by Storyteller Rudolf Roos.
See the complete list of The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales

Similar Posts